Eat Lighter and Get Moving in 2013

Are your clothes already feeling a bit snug from all the holiday food and drinks you enjoyed at the end of 2012? Don't panic: you can turn it all around starting today! Here are some tips to make 2013 your year of healthy lifestyle changes:

 
  • Leftovers need to go. Any holiday leftovers that can't be converted into low-calorie meals need to be tossed out, ASAP. Sweets need to be rationed to one treat per day or tossed out with the other leftovers. Start cruising low-calorie recipe blogs for meal ideas immediately and read up on portion sizes. 
     
  • Enjoy the Great Outdoors. While it might feel cold outside, January and February can still have good days for an outdoor activity – consider going out walking or jogging in the afternoon, when the temperature peaks. Get outside and take advantage of the brisker temperatures by bicycling, hiking, jogging and playing golf or tennis. Discover park trails or take a walk by the lake. In places where snow falls, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or, if you live near the water, try kayaking or get out and play a vigorous game of fetch with your dog. Remember, exercise comes in different forms. Cleaning out junk from storage rooms, home improvement projects, and even doing yard work can also help get the heart pumping.
     
  • Go to class. Have you always wanted to try tai chi or yoga? How about a trapeze class or boxing? Many gyms, private fitness clubs and park districts start up a new round of classes in January, so scan the schedules to see if something catches your interest. After all, a well-rounded fitness regimen is important.
     
  • Cut back on the sweets. To help maintain a healthier shape, consider the calorie savings provided by low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages. Products sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners allow consumers to enjoy their favorite meals without the extra calories. For example, drinking a diet soda can save 150 calories a day. Over the course of a year, that daily calorie savings could result in a 15-pound weight loss. Choosing sugar-free chocolate will save you 50 calories a day – or five pounds – by year’s end.
     
  • Lighten up on drinks. After the midnight toasts from New Year's are over, it's a good time to consider cutting back on the number of alcoholic beverages you consume and even the type of drinks you still endulge in. Alcohol can rack up a lot of empty calories, especially regular beer and mixed drinks that are high in sugar. Consider some lighter ingredients for the mixed drinks, stick to one glass of wine, and opt for a light beer when possible. The calorie savings will be worth it.
     
  • Don’t be a couch potato. Love the new shows that typically come on in January/February? If you’re planning to sit through hours of television each night, ramp up your sofa-based activity. While watching your favorite shows, walk or run in place, do lunges, abdominal work or lift weights. Do push-ups or tricep dips during commercial breaks. There are probably 20 minutes worth of commercial interruptions in a one-hour episode, which is more than enough time to get those muscles pumping.
     
  • Be social. Find a friend with a similar fitness level and goals and start exercising together. Having a partner helps boost motivation. Plus, you can use that exercise time to catch up on each other’s lives.
     
  • Water and fiber. Sometimes hunger isn't really hunger. Sometimes it's dehydration and all your body really needs is a glass of water or two. Afterall, a lot of the water we consume daily is through the food we eat. So, trick your body out of those extra calories and just reach for some water. Keep a tumbler at work and at home that you can fill up every day. If you need a snack, try to choose something high in fiber and low in sodium (example: 1 tsp unsalted peanut butter on whole wheat toast). Fiber fills you up quicker and for longer -staving off cravings for calories you don't really need. 
     
Remember, January is the perfect time to start a new fitness program. By burning those calories now and creating healthier habits, you can make permanent lifestyle changes for 2013 and beyond.